For the Turin Humanities Project Giorgio Lizzul is working on the project “The Blood, Breath, and Sinews of the State: Governing the Fiscal Health of the Body-Politic.” This is a comparative study of the use of the body-politic in the representation of fiscality from the twelfth to the seventeenth century. It has two strands. The first traces the representation of the treasury and wealth in the metaphor of the body-politic in a Euro-Mediterranean context, focusing on the Latin intellectual world, with a focus on works of moral theology and political theory informed by changing medical and alchemical ideas. The second strand focuses on specific political contexts in which this symbolic language was generated and employed by authors and political actors to represent, legitimate, and critique new institutions and fiscal laws.

The project explores the use of this metaphor in the writings of scholastic theologians and jurists, humanists, physicians, chroniclers, administrators, and counsellors. The research will map how the body-politic emerged as one of the premier metaphors for communicating ideas about fiscality, as a symbolic image that fostered new ways of thinking about the economy long before the disciplinary formation of political economy. The project will reveal how the use of these somatic metaphors, and their incorporation of ideas about circulation, digestion, equilibrium, and mechanical motion, changed in dialogue with the reception of Greco-Arabic medical writing and new developments in anatomy and physiology.

2022-2024 Research Cycle

Political Thought and the Body:
Europe and East Asia, ca. 1100-1650


Giorgio Lizzul: Short Biography
& Academic Curriculum Vitae